Lymphatic Drainage Therapy

What is the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system, a sister circulatory system to the cardiovascular, plays a crucial role in our body’s ability to ward off disease, heal from injury, and detoxify. Without the proper functioning of this silent system that works to keep us healthy, our body would suffer massive swelling resulting in death in 24 to 48 hours. 1


The lymphatic system maintains the body’s fluid balance, delivers vitamins from the digestive tract, removes the waste products produced by all the cells, plays an integral role in the immune functions of the body as our sanitation and detoxification system. The lymphatic fluid is filtered and purified as it passes through the lymph nodes where bacteria and other harmful substances are destroyed and antibodies are created. Excess fluid in the tissues interferes with cell nutrition as oxygen and nutrients take longer to pass and waste products are not being removed quickly.

Lymphatic Drainage Treatment

In a Lymphatic Drainage Therapy session the therapist detects the rhythm, direction, depth, and quality of the flow and then, using very gentle pressure with soft wavelike movements on the skin, encourages and enhances the lymph to flow in the direction of the lymph nodes.The aim of the therapist is to restore equilibrium in the tissues.


Treatment may be applied almost immediately following surgery, actually the sooner the better since it assists the healing process. In any condition where edema is evident manual lymphatic drainage is the ideal soft tissue therapy to apply frequently in the initial stages. The maneuvers are gentle and can treat very painful and acute conditions without being invasive.


Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage


In essence, Lymphatic Drainage Therapy (LDT) or Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) increases circulation of the body fluids, stimulates the immune system, and promotes a state of relaxation and balance of the autonomic nervous system which may result in:


  • Detoxification of the body

  • Regeneration of tissues (e.g. from burns, surgical scarring) and skin care

  • Enhancement of immune function for preventative and therapeutic effects

  • Relief of chronic inflammation and conditions such as acne and allergies

  • Reduction in edemas (swelling) and lymphedema of various origins

  • Relief from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia

  • Deep relaxation to aid insomnia, depression, stress

  • Relief from chronic pain


Lymphatic Drainage Therapy is widespread in Europe, South America where the importance of the lymphatic system’s optimal function is recognized  in preventative health care as it supports all body systems and underlies a wide host of conditions, “it is quite impossible to consider an organic disturbance that does not include a lymphatic change.” 2


Practical applications of Lymphatic Therapy


Surgery - cosmetic procedures

Lymphatic Drainage is regularly used by surgeons before and after cosmetic procedures, such as:

  • Liposuction

  • Facelift

  • Eyelid (blepharoplasty)

  • Nose (rhinoplasty)

  • Mastectomy

  • Breast lift (mastopexy)

  • Breast augmentation (mammaplasty)

  • Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

  • Upper arm rejuvenation


Surgery - cancer

Edemas and lymphedemas resulting from injury to the lymphatic vessels from surgery or from lymphadenectomies (removal of lymph nodes) may be managed or even prevented.


Studies have shown that enhanced lymph flow may significantly hasten healing post-surgically and promote healthy scar formation as it:


  • Reduces swelling, hematoma (bruises), and pain

  • Reduces skin numbness

  • Reduces risk of infection

  • Improves blood circulation in the area

  • Minimizes fibrosis and keloid scar tissue


GI issues

LDT is recommended for gastrointestinal issues, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), celiac, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.


Edema (swelling)

Edemas of various origins, i.e. rheumatoid conditions, chronic inflammation, tooth infections, any type of surgery, sports injuries, pregnancy can be reduced with the application of Lymphatic Drainage Therapy.


Pregnancy and breast care

Fluid retention and swelling of the extremities, common during pregnancy, are reduced and discomfort or pain alleviated. Breast drainage during lactation or menstruation improves the movement of the stagnated fluid. Breastfeeding women with painful engorgement report better milk yields and pain reduction.


Some of the issues that contribute to infertility can be traced to scar tissue, fascial restriction, and lymphatic congestion in the pelvic region. Lymphatic drainage combined with     exist to release fascial restrictions, to mobilize tight ligaments, and to drain congested lymphatics, all of which can be applied to the reproductive system



Lymphatic drainage is a gentle technique so is well tolerated by people suffering from painful conditions such as Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.


Skin care

Regular lymphatic drainage keeps the skin healthy, clear, without a buildup of toxins and excess fluids; for this reason it is always used by aestheticians as part of facial care and for skin conditions like acne.


Circulatory disorders

People with venous insufficiency and Raynaud’s report that “treatment ameliorates the severity and related edema, symptoms, and pain.”


Self care

Lymphatic drainage can benefit everyone. If you're feeling tired, low on energy, sluggish, or you are recovering from a sickness, optimizing your lymph system for stronger immunity will serve you well.

Effects of sluggish lymphatic circulation


A sluggish lymphatic circulation creates a toxic internal environment as the cells are suspended in their own waste and can influence and overwhelm most of the systems of the body. Lack of energy, soreness, frequent colds and flu infections, constipation, irritability, headaches, allergies, sinus congestion, food sensitivities, depression, fatigue, joint pain, skin breakout, acne, and tissue swelling are some of the diverse symptoms of reduced circulation and a compromised immune system.


What affects lymphatic circulation


Limited movement - Without a pump, as the heart is for the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic fluid depends on muscle contraction to circulate. Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise can seriously restrict the flow.


Dehydration - Inadequate water intake contributes to poor lymphatic drainage and is one of the most common cause of lymphatic stagnation.


Acidic environment - All systems of the body, including the lymphatic, need a neutral ph to function optimally. An imbalance of acidity and alkalinity impedes the flow, damages tissues, and compromises the immune system.


Stress - Stress-hormones and their waste products are very acidic and they alter the blood and cellular chemistry.


Chronic digestive imbalances - The largest concentration of lymphatic tissue is in the intestines acting as a guard by separating desirable nutrients from harmful pathogens. Healthy GALT (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) function inhibits allergic responses and decreases food sensitivities. Constipation, diarrhea, food sensitivities, parasites, stress, processed foods compromise the function of the lymphatic system, exacerbating original GI issues.


Processed foods - Artificial colorings, flavorings, preservatives, canned foods affect the function of the lymphatic system and “lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease. 


Chemical Exposure - Cleaning products, pesticides, chemicals in skin care products may have detrimental effects on the lymphatic system and its ability to detoxify.


Self Care


Your lymphatic system is constantly working to keep you healthy. Maintaining its health is important not only for its own role, but the role it plays in many other body systems.


Drink plenty of water. The best water to drink is alkaline water followed by distilled water.



Eat a healthy diet rich in alkaline foods and vegetables that provide a full range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients and include healthy fats.

Dry Brushing

Use a dry brush before your morning shower to stimulate circulation, increase tissue oxygenation and remove toxins. How to dry brush


Exercise daily, including both aerobic and anaerobic physical activity.



Avoid pollutants, toxic substances, and unhealthy environments. What to avoid

Manage stress

Learn to manage stress through techniques such as yoga, meditation, and exercise to promote wellness.




1.“If the lymphatic system didn’t act to remove excess protein alone, from the extracellular environment, the body would suffer massive oedema and function complications, resulting in death within 24 to 48 hours.” Guyton, A.C. 1971

2.The Anatomy of the Lymphatics, Millard, F.W., 1922.

Lymphatic system map, lymphatic massage

"After having three kids my body had taken a beating. I had lipo and tummy tuck. Anna has helped me so much specially during the first weeks when I felt uncomfortable. I had a lot of relief after each treatment and the results were amazing. I am so happy I found her!"

-Valerie B.